Not the greedy,
None of them
The kingdom of God.”
οὔτε κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐ λοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν Θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν.
Paul said that not thieves (οὔτε κλέπται), not the greedy (οὔτε πλεονέκται), not the drunkards (οὐ μέθυσοι), not the revilers (οὐ λοίδοροι), and not the robbers (οὐχ ἅρπαγες), none of them will inherit (κληρονομήσουσιν) the kingdom of God (βασιλείαν Θεοῦ). Only the Pauline letters used these words πλεονέκται, that means one desirous of having more or a covetous person, and the word μέθυσοι, that means drunkard, and the word λοίδοροι, that means abusive, railer, or reviler. Paul further elaborated on bad behaviors that were not to be tolerated within the Christian communities. These unrighteous people would not inherit the kingdom of God. In case there was any doubt, he listed these unacceptable behaviors within the Christian community, as people who were thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Paul was clear about what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior among the newly forming Christian communities. Do you have unacceptable behavior in your Christian community?
“Do you not know
Will not inherit
The kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived!
ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι Θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; μὴ πλανᾶσθε· οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται
Paul then asked them. “Do you not know (ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε) that wrongdoers (ὅτι ἄδικοι) will not inherit (οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν) the kingdom of God (Θεοῦ βασιλείαν)? They were not to be deceived (μὴ πλανᾶσθε)! Neither would fornicators (οὔτε πόρνοι), idolaters (οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι), adulterers (οὔτε μοιχοὶ), male prostitutes (οὔτε μαλακοὶ), or sodomites (οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται).” Only the Pauline letters used this word πόρνοι, that means a fornicator, a man who prostitutes himself, and the word εἰδωλολάτραι, that means an image or idol worshiper, the word μαλακοὶ, a sodomite, a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity or a pederast, and the word ἀρσενοκοῖται, that means a sodomite or a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity. Paul insisted that unrighteous wrongdoers would not inherit the kingdom of God. They should not deceive themselves by pleading ignorance. He then went on to uniquely list all the bad behaviors that kept people from the kingdom of God. He hit very strongly on idolaters and wrongful sexual activity such as fornicators, adulterers, prostitutes, and sodomites. They were not to be tolerated within the Christian communities. Do you have sinful people in your Christian communities?
“But you yourselves
And believers at that.”
ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς ἀδικεῖτε καὶ ἀποστερεῖτε, καὶ τοῦτο ἀδελφούς.
Paul chastised them since they were believing brothers (καὶ τοῦτο ἀδελφούς), “You yourselves wrong (ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς ἀδικεῖτε) and defraud (καὶ ἀποστερεῖτε) each other.” Paul was doubly upset. He was mad that believing brothers in Christ had wronged and defrauded each other. Then he was further annoyed that they could not settle it among themselves. They were fellow believers in Christ, yet they were mistreating each other and no one stepped in to solve this problem. They were defrauding each other and yet suffered no consequences. Have you ever defrauded another fellow Christian?
“To have lawsuits at all
With one another
Is already a defeat
Why not rather suffer wrong?
Why not rather be defrauded?”
ἤδη μὲν οὖν ὅλως ἥττημα ὑμῖν ἐστιν ὅτι κρίματα ἔχετε μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν. διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀδικεῖσθε; διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀποστερεῖσθε;
Paul once again questioned these disciples at Corinth. He told them to have lawsuits at all with one another (ὅτι κρίματα ἔχετε μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν) was already a defeat for them (ἤδη μὲν οὖν ὅλως ἥττημα ὑμῖν ἐστιν). He asked them. “Why not rather suffer wrong (διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀδικεῖσθε)?” “Why not rather be defrauded (διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀποστερεῖσθε)?” Only the Pauline letters used this word ἥττημα, that means to lose, to defect, to fail, to be defeated, or a shortcoming. Paul reminded them that the very fact of the lawsuits with each other was already a loss or a defect in this Christian community. Why couldn’t they just suffer whatever wrong it was or whatever fraud was committed against them? Should they not have been more forgiving in the first place? Why couldn’t they suffer a little indignity among themselves? Are you willing to suffer a little injustice in your life?
“But a believing brother
Goes to court
Against a fellow brother believer,
Before unbelievers at that.”
ἀλλὰ ἀδελφὸς μετὰ ἀδελφοῦ κρίνεται, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ ἀπίστων;
Paul admonished them because a believing brother (ἀλλὰ ἀδελφὸς) went to court against a fellow brother believer (μετὰ ἀδελφοῦ κρίνεται). However, they went before unbelievers at that (καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ ἀπίστων). Paul continued with his diatribe against the unbelieving Roman and Greek civil courts. Paul pointed out that there was a double problem here. First, why were two Christian brothers fighting against each other? Second, why did they go to unbelieving Greek and Roman civil judges to get an answer to their problem? Certainly, some of the Christian believers in their community could have solved this matter. Have you ever had a sharp disagreement within your Christian community?
“I say this to your shame.
Can it be
That there is no one
Able to decide
Between your believing brothers?”
πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λέγω. οὕτως οὐκ ἔνι ἐν ὑμῖν οὐδεὶς σοφὸς, ὃς δυνήσεται διακρῖναι ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ;
Paul continued to question the Christian believers in Corinth. He was saying this to shame them (πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λέγω). “Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough (οὕτως οὐκ ἔνι ἐν ὑμῖν οὐδεὶς σοφὸς) to be able to decide (ὃς δυνήσεται διακρῖναι) between their believing brothers (ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ)?” Only the Pauline letters used this word ἐντροπὴν, that means respect or shame. Paul wanted to put them to shame with another ironic question. Was there nobody wise or smart enough among these Greek Christians in Corinth able to decide or judge these small cases among the believing brothers there? Where was all that Greek wisdom? Someone of their fellow Christians should judge these matters. Otherwise, it was shameful. Do you let others judge you?
“If then you have ordinary cases,
Then why do you appoint
Those who have no standing
In the church?”
βιωτικὰ μὲν οὖν κριτήρια ἐὰν ἔχητε, τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, τούτους καθίζετε;
Paul asked again. “If then you have ordinary cases to judge (βιωτικὰ μὲν οὖν κριτήρια ἐὰν ἔχητε), then why do you appoint as judges (τούτους καθίζετε), those who have no standing or are despised (τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους) in the church community (ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ)?” Paul kept asking these ironic questions. Why were they asking these despised Roman or Greek gentiles to sit as judges about their fellow Christians in these ordinary cases? They had no standing or place in their Christian community. Why were they going outside their community church for advice on ordinary day to day matters? How do you solve your daily ordinary problems?
“Do you not know
That we are to judge angels,
To say nothing
Of ordinary matters?
οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἀγγέλους κρινοῦμεν, μήτιγε βιωτικά;
Paul asked the Christian Corinthians. “Did you not know (οὐκ οἴδατε) that we are about to judge angels (ὅτι ἀγγέλους κρινοῦμεν), to say nothing about ordinary matters (μήτιγε βιωτικά)?” Only the Pauline letters used this word μήτιγε, that means let alone, much less, or much more. Paul continued with these ironic questions. He wanted these Corinthian Christians to know that they were going to be judging angels or evil spirits. They were going to share with God in the judging of the world, both good and bad. If they would be part of this great judgment day, you would think that they could solve or judge these trivial ordinary matters. Paul reminded them of their great power and how they refused to use it on small stuff. Do you sweat the small stuff?
“Do you not know
That the saints
If the world
Is to be judged
Are you incompetent
To try trivial cases?”
ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἅγιοι τὸν κόσμον κρινοῦσιν; καὶ εἰ ἐν ὑμῖν κρίνεται ὁ κόσμος, ἀνάξιοί ἐστε κριτηρίων ἐλαχίστων;
Paul asked a couple of ironic questions. “Do you not know (ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε) that the saints (ὅτι οἱ ἅγιοι) will judge (κρινοῦσιν) the world (τὸν κόσμον κρινοῦσιν)? If the world is to be judged by you (καὶ εἰ ἐν ὑμῖν κρίνεται ὁ κόσμος), are you incompetent (ἀνάξιοί) to try trivial cases (κριτηρίων ἐλαχίστων)?” Only the Pauline letters used this word ἀνάξιοί, that means unworthy or inadequate. Paul continued to call this Christian community in Corinth “the saints” or the “holy ones”. He never referred to them as Christians. He asked them if they realized that they would be called upon to judge the whole world at the end times, the day of judgment of God? If that was the case, how were they so incompetent that they could not judge these small or trivial cases? Paul did not want civil authorities getting involved in the affairs of the followers of Jesus Christ. They should be able to make their own decisions about small matters. Do you complain about small things?
“When any of you
Has a grievance
Do you dare
To take it to court
Before the unrighteous,
Instead of taking it
Before the saints?”
Τολμᾷ τις ὑμῶν πρᾶγμα ἔχων πρὸς τὸν ἕτερον κρίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τῶν ἀδίκων, καὶ οὐχὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων;
Paul warned the Corinthians against lawsuits. If any of them had a grievance (Τολμᾷ τις ὑμῶν πρᾶγμα ἔχων) against another one (πρὸς τὸν ἕτερον), Paul asked whether it should be taken to the unrighteous civil Roman court (κρίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τῶν ἀδίκων), or why not take it before the saints (καὶ οὐχὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων) in their community. Now the question arose about how to settle disputes within the holy Christian community at Corinth. Paul did not want them to take any lawsuits before the civil Roman court in Corinth. If they had a grievance with each other, they should keep it in house and bring it to their saintly Christian community leaders. Most of these lawsuits were about rich people suing poor people. Paul felt that the civil unrighteous authorities there should not be judging the Christian community. These holy people were to settle things among themselves. Paul liked the Jewish model, where Jewish judges would settle these matters for Jewish people. These pagan gentile judges were unfit to judge God’s chosen people, the holy followers of Jesus Christ. Have you ever sued anyone?